Hall of Fame forward Elgin Baylor, who pursued his famous career as a player with a decade of tenure as general manager of LA Clippers, has passed away at the age of 86.
Baylor died Monday of natural causes and was surrounded by his wife Elaine and daughter Krystal, the Los Angeles Lakers said in a statement.
“Elgin was the love of my life and my best friend,” Elaine said in the statement. “And like everyone else, I was in awe of his immense courage, his dignity and the time he gave to all fans. At this point, we ask that I and our family may mourn his death in private.”
Baylor is considered one of the greatest basketball players and was an eleven-time All-Star and ten-time All-NBA selection during his 14 seasons with the Lakers from 1958 to 1971. He was both 1958-59 Rookie of the Year and the All-Star Game MVP that year. He averaged double-doubles for his career, scoring 27.4 points and 13.5 rebounds per game.
With the Lakers, who moved from Minneapolis to Los Angeles in 1960, Baylor played eight NBA finals, but never won a title and lost three series of seven games to the Boston Celtics. He holds the record in the single game final with 61 points against the Celtics in 1962.
“Elgin was THE superstar of his time – his many awards speak for it,” said Lakers owner Jeanie Buss in a statement. “He was one of the few Lakers players whose career spanned from Minneapolis to Los Angeles. But more importantly, he was a man of great integrity who even served his country as a reservist in the US Army, and often only during his weekend pass Played for the Lakers. He’s one of the greats of the Lakers. His # 22 jersey is retired in the rafters and his statue stands guard outside the STAPLES Center. He will always be part of the Lakers legacy. On behalf of the entire family the Lakers, I want to send my thoughts, prayers, and condolences to Elaine and the Baylor family. “
Jerry West, who was a teammate at Baylor’s on the Lakers and is now a Clippers advisor, said Baylor was like family to him.
“I will forever cherish my days spent with him as a teammate. He was one of the most gifted and special players this game will ever see and he never got his fair debt for what he played on Has reached place, “West said in a statement. “In the early years in the league he looked after me like a father to a son, he cared for me and encouraged me like no other in this period of my life. We shared the joy of winning and the heartbreaking losses during the championship He was a prince on and off the square. There are no words to describe how I feel during this time. My deepest condolences go to his dear wife Elaine and his loving family and his many fans and friends. I loved him like one Brothers.”
Baylor’s highlights also included becoming the first player to score 70 points in a game and to score 71 points against the New York Knicks in November 1960. This was the Lakers’ single-game record until Kobe Bryant scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors in January 2006.
Baylor retired at the beginning of the 1971/72 season due to knee problems. He only missed winning an NBA title as the Lakers would defeat the Knicks in five games in that season’s finals.
“Elgin Baylor was one of the first superstar players in the league to set the course for the modern NBA,” said NBA commissioner Adam Silver in a statement.
“I loved him like a brother.”
After his active career, Baylor trained three seasons (1976-79) the New Orleans Jazz without a playoff appearance before he resigned.
He then found a long-term home in the Clippers’ front office and was general manager from 1986 to 2009, although the team only played two playoff games during his tenure. He was named NBA Manager of the Year in 2005-06 when the Clippers won 47 games and reached the semifinals of the Western Conference.
Baylor said he was forced out of work because of his age and racial discrimination, despite dropping racial discrimination claims against the Clippers in a lawsuit that was finally dismissed in 2011.
Baylor served as GM under owner Donald Sterling, who was banned from the NBA forever in 2014 after private footage of him making racist comments was released. Baylor said he worked for Sterling because job opportunities for former black players were limited and he had to take care of his family.
In a statementThe Clippers called Baylor “a transcendent player, a beloved teammate and a game changer.” The team was silent a moment before Monday night’s game at the Staples Center.
Baylor was born on September 16, 1934 in Washington, DC. Named after his father’s favorite watch, an “Elgin” watch, Baylor became passionate about his sport before he could afford a basketball and instead learned to shoot a tennis ball.
Baylor played at Seattle University from 1956 to 1958, averaging 31.3 points per game and leading the team to their only Final Four appearance in 1958 when the team lost the title game to Adolph Rupps Kentucky Wildcats. Baylor was named Most Outstanding Player.
After the season, the Minneapolis Lakers, on the verge of bankruptcy after a steep fall from their first championship era, picked Baylor as the first in the 1958 NBA draft. Baylor immediately saved the Lakers with his rating and style.
In fact, it was the second time the Lakers had chosen Baylor in a draft. They picked him out in the 14th round in 1956, but Baylor chose to continue playing in college at that time.
Baylor, who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1977, became the sixth person to be honored by the Lakers with a statue that was unveiled in April 2018. In 1983 the team withdrew their jersey No. 22.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.